Relationships that won't work
Alienated labor is really not my thing.1 But I am also absolutely not entrepreneurial and could not sell a glass of lemonade even to someone dying of thirst in the desert. It just doesn't work. I have tried it at terribly low points in my life and I can't even sell something I believe in. Yes, that means I can't do fundraising.
In general, I find myself constrained by my own ethics. I am terribly ill-suited for the prevailing doctrine of neoliberalism. I reject capitalist libertarianism, its neoliberalist offspring, so-called anarcho-capitalism, and all its variants.2 I object to the neoliberal preeminence of market value over all other value.3 I have trouble tolerating economic arrangements of exchange that privilege whomever has the greater power to say no and that cyclically exacerbate inequality.4 I tolerate markets at all only because I live in a market-based society. Unfortunately,
Economics has become the benchmark for other intellectual endeavors; its practitioners rule policy debates; and, sadly, its mathematical modeling has become a closet form of anti-intellectualism — mathematically abstracted, as it tends to be, from real-world problems — that is creeping into other disciplines. . . . [But] [e]conomists also have less regard — or perhaps greater disdain? — for other disciplines, as well as much more tightly wound methods, unified frameworks, and core principles that appear unchallengeable from within or outside the field. All of this condemns economists to a distinct epistemological insularity, a unified worldview that demarcates them from the rest of the academy. The more economists agree among themselves, the further they drift from everyone else. . . .
From inside its fenced-in monocultural landscape, [economics] students are taught that they have arrived at the land of objectivity, that they have passed beyond the ideological and into the scientific. Not only is this protectionism, but it creates a rub with democratic theory and practice. It is, essentially, an invitation to opt out of the greater intellectual struggles in which the rest of us are engaged. By protecting itself from the contagion of outside ideas, economics offers up a more extreme version of the Balkanization and creeping anti-intellectualism that are apparent elsewhere in the academy. Its hegemonic role, however, makes all the more important the need for the field to open up and transcend its preoccupation with the blackboard fictions of economic modeling.5
In a society which has elevated capitalism well beyond the condition of an economic system, I am a heretic and a blasphemer. And that I am not a unit of production means my résumé isn't terribly meaningful. This, in addition to the facts that I am really, really not a marketer or salesperson; that I am an introvert, whose social network is limited and largely from a time when I was trying to fit into the high technology industry; and other factors, makes it hard for me to get hired,6 or even to get a date. In fact, you might say that the notion of marketing myself feels like prostitution and that I am repelled by the deceptions, game-playing, and manipulations that generally pass for courtship in our society.
- 1. Steven M. Buechler, Understanding Social Movements: Theories from the Classical Era to the Present (Boulder: Paradigm, 2011).
- 2. David Benfell, "Hayek: The first 99 pages," December 8, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/12/06/hayek-the-first-99-pages/; David Benfell, "Alice in Wonderland without the wonder: An initial look at Atlas Shrugged," December 16, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/12/16/alice-in-wonderland-without-the-wonder-an-initial-look-at-atlas-shrugged/; David Benfell, "Ayn Rand’s (im)morality," December 20, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/12/20/ayn-rands-immorality/; David Benfell, "False dichotomy and motivation," December 21, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/12/21/false-dichotomy-and-motivation/; David Benfell, "Ayn Rand’s utopia," December 22, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/12/22/ayn-rands-utopia/; David Benfell, "Ayn Rand: The Non-Sequitur," December 26, 2013, https://parts-unknown.org/wp/2013/12/26/ayn-rand-the-non-sequitur/; George H. Nash, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America Since 1945, 30th anniversary ed. (Wilmington, DE: Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2006).
- 3. Henry A Giroux, "Intellectuals as Subjects and Objects of Violence," Truthout, September 10, 2013, http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/18704-intellectuals-as-subjects-and-objects-of-violence; Henry Giroux, "Neoliberalism’s War Against the Radical Imagination," Tikkun, February 11, 2014, http://www.tikkun.org/nextgen/neoliberalisms-war-against-the-radical-imagination-by-henry-giroux; Henry A. Giroux, "Neoliberalism and the Machinery of Disposability," Truthout, April 8, 2014, http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/22958-neoliberalism-and-the-machinery-of-disposability
- 4. Max Weber, "Class, Status, Party," Social Theory: The Multicultural and Classic Readings, ed. Charles Lemert, 4th ed. (Boulder, CO: Westview, 2010), 119-129.
- 5. Jefferson Cowie, "Why Are Economists So Small-Minded?" Chronicle of Higher Education, February 7, 2016, http://chronicle.com/article/Why-Are-Economists-So/235159
- 6. David Benfell, "Kicking job seekers when they’re down," Not Housebroken, June 28, 2013, https://disunitedstates.org/?p=5624